People with psychosis may have one or more of the following: hallucinations, delusions, or thought disorder, as described below.
An hallucination is defined as sensory perception in the absence of external stimuli. They are different from illusions, or perceptual distortions, which are the misperception of external stimuli.
Hallucinations may occur in any of the five senses and take on almost any form, which may include simple sensations (such as lights, colors, tastes, and smells) to more meaningful experiences such as seeing and interacting with fully formed animals and people, hearing voices, and having complex tactile sensations.
Auditory hallucinations, particularly experiences of hearing voices, are a common and often prominent feature of psychosis. Hallucinated voices may talk about, or to, the person, and may involve several speakers with distinct personas. Auditory hallucinations tend to be particularly distressing when they are derogatory, commanding or preoccupying. However, the experience of hearing voices need not always be a negative one.
One research study has shown that the majority of people who hear voices are not in need of psychiatric help. The Hearing Voices Movement has subsequently been created to support voice hearers, regardless of whether they are considered to have a mental illness or not.
Psychosis may involve delusional beliefs, some of which are paranoid in nature. Karl Jaspers has classified psychotic delusions into ''primary'' and ''secondary'' types.
Primary delusions are defined as arising suddenly and not being comprehensible in terms of normal mental processes, whereas secondary delusions may be understood as being influenced by the person's background or current situation (e.g., ethnic or sexual orientation, religious beliefs, superstitious belief).
Thought disorder describes an underlying disturbance to conscious thought and is classified largely by its effects on speech and writing. Affected persons show loosening of associations, that is, a disconnection and disorganization of the semantic content of speech and writing. In the severe form speech becomes incomprehensible and it is known as "word-salad".
The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) assesses the level of 18
symptom constructs of psychosis such as hostility, suspicion,
hallucination, and grandiosity. It is based on the clinician's interview
with the patient and observations of the patient's behavior over the
previous 2–3 days. The patient's family can also provide the behavior
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